Monday, August 29, 2005

Love that dry heat!

Whenever we have a low pressure system approaching from the west, it's circular movement causes strong south winds for hours before it comes. That's why our snows don't last that long in the winter - when another storm approaches, the warm south winds melt the previous snowfall.

Anyway, the south wind is whistling today - it's hot, but we have a wind chill of 5 degrees because the humidity is so low:
Temperature: 97F
Feels like: 92F
Humidity: 11%
Dew Point: 33F
Wind: 23 mph S

You don't see this in the midwest.


Tuesday, August 09, 2005

The Crackpot Index

The only thing missing is a scale to rank crackpots. You know, start with
"mildly amusing" and proceed up to "inducing insanity in others".

The Crackpot Index
John Baez

A simple method for rating potentially revolutionary contributions to physics:

1. A -5 point starting credit.

2. 1 point for every statement that is widely agreed on to be false.

3. 2 points for every statement that is clearly vacuous.

4. 3 points for every statement that is logically inconsistent.

5. 5 points for each such statement that is adhered to despite careful

6. 5 points for using a thought experiment that contradicts the results of a
widely accepted real experiment.

7. 5 points for each word in all capital letters (except for those with
defective keyboards).

8. 5 points for each mention of "Einstien", "Hawkins" or "Feynmann".

9. 10 points for each claim that quantum mechanics is fundamentally
misguided (without good evidence).

10. 10 points for pointing out that you have gone to school, as if this were
evidence of sanity.

11. 10 points for beginning the description of your theory by saying how long
you have been working on it.

12. 10 points for mailing your theory to someone you don't know personally
and asking them not to tell anyone else about it, for fear that your ideas will
be stolen.

13. 10 points for offering prize money to anyone who proves and/or finds any
flaws in your theory.

14. 10 points for each new term you invent and use without properly defining

15. 10 points for each statement along the lines of "I'm not good at math,
but my theory is conceptually right, so all I need is for someone to express it
in terms of equations".

16. 10 points for arguing that a current well-established theory is "only a
theory", as if this were somehow a point against it.

17. 10 points for arguing that while a current well-established theory
predicts phenomena correctly, it doesn't explain "why" they occur, or fails to
provide a "mechanism".

18. 10 points for each favorable comparison of yourself to Einstein, or claim
that special or general relativity are fundamentally misguided (without good

19. 10 points for claiming that your work is on the cutting edge of a
"paradigm shift".

20. 20 points for emailing me and complaining about the crackpot index.
(E.g., saying that it "suppresses original thinkers" or saying that I
misspelled "Einstein" in item 8.)

21. 20 points for suggesting that you deserve a Nobel prize.

22. 20 points for each favorable comparison of yourself to Newton or claim
that classical mechanics is fundamentally misguided (without good evidence).

23. 20 points for every use of science fiction works or myths as if they were

24. 20 points for defending yourself by bringing up (real or imagined)
ridicule accorded to your past theories.

25. 20 points for naming something after yourself. (E.g., talking about the
"The Evans Field Equation" when your name happens to be Evans.)

26. 20 points for talking about how great your theory is, but never actually
explaining it.

27. 20 points for each use of the phrase "hidebound reactionary".

28. 20 points for each use of the phrase "self-appointed defender of the

29. 30 points for suggesting that a famous figure secretly disbelieved in a
theory which he or she publicly supported. (E.g., that Feynman was a closet
opponent of special relativity, as deduced by reading between the lines in his
freshman physics textbooks.)

30. 30 points for suggesting that Einstein, in his later years, was groping
his way towards the ideas you now advocate.

31. 30 points for claiming that your theories were developed by an
extraterrestrial civilization (without good evidence).

32. 30 points for allusions to a delay in your work while you spent time in
an asylum, or references to the psychiatrist who tried to talk you out of your

33. 40 points for comparing those who argue against your ideas to Nazis,
stormtroopers, or brownshirts.

34. 40 points for claiming that the "scientific establishment" is engaged in
a "conspiracy" to prevent your work from gaining its well-deserved fame, or

35. 40 points for comparing yourself to Galileo, suggesting that a modern-day
Inquisition is hard at work on your case, and so on.

36. 40 points for claiming that when your theory is finally appreciated,
present-day science will be seen for the sham it truly is. (30 more points for
fantasizing about show trials in which scientists who mocked your theories will
be forced to recant.)

37. 50 points for claiming you have a revolutionary theory but giving no
concrete testable predictions.

© 1998 John Baez


Wednesday, August 03, 2005

ICE - In Case of Emergency

A couple good ideas from various sources:


A Cambridge-based paramedic has launched a national campaign with Vodafone to encourage people to store emergency contact details in their mobile phones.

Bob Brotchie, a clinical team leader for the East Anglian Ambulance NHS Trust, hatched the plan last year after struggling to get contact details from shocked
or injured patients.

By entering the acronym ICE – for In Case of Emergency – into the mobile’s phone book, users can log the name and number of someone who should be contacted in an emergency.

Snopes has something about this also.


Plastic-laminate a card with four emergency contacts on one side and any critical drug allergies on the other. Stick it in your wallet next to your driver's license. The license and/or insurance card is all they want in the ER, they won't dig through your wallet if they find those items 1st.